Amid controversy over the Human Rights Campaign’s endorsement of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) for re-election to the U.S. Senate, a political action committee for lesbian activists has endorsed his Democratic challenger, Tammy Duckworth.
LPAC, or the Lesbian Political Action Committee, announced Thursday its support for Duckworth, who lost both her legs and damaged her right arm as a helicopter pilot during the Iraq war, for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Beth Shipp, LPAC’s executive director, said her organization endorsed Duckworth because reproductive and LGBT rights hang in the balance in the upcoming election.
“Tammy Duckworth has proven, through her actions in Congress, that she will work hard for women’s equality, LGBT rights and social justice – the core tenets upon which LPAC was founded,” Shipp said. “Her support for our values is real, actionable, and comprehensive; Tammy is the candidate who will be a forceful advocate for LGBTQ women and our allies in the U.S. Senate. This year, it’s more about actions than words when it comes to supporting candidates. We need leaders like Tammy who will stand with us after the election when the real work begins.”
According to LPAC, the organization made the decision to support Duckworth in her race for a U.S. Senate seat Wednesday night. A LPAC spokesperson said the organization doesn’t share information about board votes, but indicated there was no opposition to the endorsement.
Duckworth, who’s currently serving in the U.S. House representing Illinois’s 8th congressional district, said she’s “honored” to receive the endorsement from LPAC.
“It’s more important than ever that we safeguard basic civil rights for all Americans, especially for women and minorities within the LGBTQ community who face unequal treatment in the workplace, housing market and education system,” Duckworth said. “I am proud of the work I have done in Congress to institute protections for LGBTQ federal workers, lobby equal pay for equal work and protect a woman’s right to choose.”
LPAC’s endorsement of Duckworth comes after the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Kirk for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Although Kirk was one of the first Senate Republicans to endorse same-sex marriage and is a co-sponsor of the Equality Act, some LGBT Democrats have criticized the decision because Kirk would cast a vote for Republican leadership in the Senate and has said he’d support Donald Trump if he were the Republican presidential nominee.
Shipp hinted at the confusion about the Human Rights Campaign endorsing Kirk over Duckworth in a separate statement to the Washington Blade.
“Given the controversy around the race, we, at LPAC, felt it was critical to announce that a meaningful segment of the LGBTQ community – that being lesbian and queer women – is supporting Congresswoman Duckworth as she campaigns to unseat her Republican incumbent opponent,” Shipp said. “With a perfect 100 point rating on LGBTQ issues and reproductive rights – Tammy Duckworth was the clear choice for LPAC. Moreover, with the Senate in play, and the stakes so high with all that could come before a Supreme Court (unable to get a nominee through the obstructionist GOP Senate), races like this demand our community’s attention.”
The Washington Blade has placed a call to HRC seeking comment on LPAC endorsing Duckworth.